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Imagine being a carefree 14 year old; you are spending relaxing time with your friends or being passionately involved in some sport or hobby. When you are a child you are allowed to be anyone you want. A child can explore different cultures and different ways of living their life. Now imagine your family pulling you from that euphoric, easy-going state and throwing you into the life of marriage. This horrible operation is a reality for many young girls across the globe. According to the International Center for Research on Women, this happens scarily often with “15 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18” (Child Marriage Facts and Figures). Unfortunately, because of the strain and confusion on these girls, child marriage has shown an increase in depression among girls who married underage, this especially happens in Niger and Bangladesh. Child marriage is very real and it is definitely happening. This catastrophic event happens in many countries across the world, but Niger has the highest rate of child marriages— with it happening 76% of the time! Sadly this is happening as a result of poverty. As a hunger crisis continues to sweep across Niger, many families choose to marry off their children because they can no longer afford to care for them. It is cheaper for a parent to send their daughter off to live with a man much older than she is to care for her than it is for her parents to care for her. A lack of food in Niger has caused many of the young girls to become sick or die; one of those girls is Balki. Balki was married at an astounding 12 years old, she is now 14 years old and recently had just lost her son in childbirth because “her body was so frail, so weakened by a lack of food” (Raghavan). This happens more often than not, but after a few days of recovering in the hospital, the girls will return to their village and “try to have another child” (Raghavan). In Niger, these events happen in a snowball effect: Niger is a landlocked nation with one of the largest growing populations. Because of the population rise, food is sparse and expensive. Many families cannot find food or they cannot afford food, so they decide to send their young daughters off to marry so they have one less mouth to feed. While many families in Niger decide to go through with this process thinking it will be good for them, it, in fact, causes more damage to their daughters mentally, physically, and emotionally. This damage brought upon these young women is a violation of ethical human rights. In Bangladesh, many young girls are also forced into a non-consensual marriage. While marriage among young girls is seen as a norm, especially in small, remote villages, many may argue that child marriage is not an ethical or fair practice. Bangladesh has the fourth highest rate of child marriage “with 29 percent of Bangladeshi girls married before age 15 and 65 percent before age 18” (Kirkpatrick). And so, once again, poverty is a major cause of child brides; other causes include cultural and religious beliefs and dowry. Many parents truly believe what they are doing is right, they think that if they send their daughter off to marriage, their daughters will be safe from any harm.   Sadly, these girls are actually receiving more harm than good when married. Many of these girls’ husbands are very overbearing and they are often abusive toward their wives.  It is illegal for a girl to be married before the age of 18 in Bangladesh, but many families are so desperate to marry off their child that they started “issuing forged birth certificates showing girls’ ages as over 18” (Kirkpatrick). Bangladesh has made many improvements in women’s rights including some cutback on poverty and maternal mortality, but its improvement on child marriage has not budged.Although child marriage seems like an issue that is way too tough to combat, many people and organizations are currently taking a stand against it. Signing petitions, donating money, or even doing something as simple as tweeting against child marriage is a step in the positive direction. But, these small steps are not going to be enough to put an end to this. Many governments of these countries have to reinforce their laws about child marriage, they need to take a stand for their people and they need to hear their cries for help.

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